The Sunday Papers

By Kieron Gillen on March 1st, 2009 at 1:25 pm.

I am made of broke
Sundays are for treating hangovers with medicinal bacon and posting about your new Marvel Beta Ray Bill miniseries. No arguments. They are. They’re also for posting a list of fun and smart reading collated across the week while trying to give a plug to an amusing T-shirt advert video for a band and link to the song which we found ourselves bawling atonally last night in a terrible Angel bar.

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54 Comments »

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  1. Lars BR says:

    I never knew I was a turtler. Huh.

  2. Alex says:

    Rush, Boom and Turtle would make a good name for a band, I think.

  3. AndrewC says:

    Good lord, imagine trying to turn around while still inside your own bum. I’d choose to keep going until I reached the other side.

    Rogue-likes but dressed up fancy – Rouge-likes?

    And you went out in Angel on a Saturday night? Lunatic.

  4. Legionary says:

    The current trend in games is towards accessibility, mostly following on from WoW’s approach. Turtling always delays the action, meaning that games take hours – not so accessible. So companies more and more are abandoning the ability for gamers to turtle by making defences weak or removing them entirely. A sad day, in my opinion.

  5. justme says:

    TURTLE FTW! :D

  6. Senethro says:

    Turtling is a cowardly abidication of control. When you turtle you give the playing field to the other player and expect him to do all the hard work. It is right turtles should die out.

  7. A-Scale says:

    I always sought to be a turtler, even as early as AOE2. I had a solid method that would work in the real world- walls, towers and fast, mobile, heavy hitting spanish gun cavalry. Sadly I was almost always overpowered by any enemy had the brains to expand and get more resources. RTS games have the failing that they are always in a closed map and with a limited number of enemies. The real world often benefits turtlers because they can pass the buck of fighting an aggressor to other states while the turtler builds up, then sweeping in to win the day.

    Turtling is dead. The last time I was able to execute a successful turtle was in WC3 on some map that put each player inside of their own little box, with only one small side opening. One could use burrows to form a funnel, and crush the enemy as they tried to squeeze through. Good times. Today’s RTS’s focus on fast matches and usually have perhaps one defense building. Since Rise of Legends most games have focused on being able to win a match on your lunch break, and I don’t see any change forthcoming. Nothing will ever match my true love, Rise of Nations. Nothing.

  8. ChampionHyena says:

    Where are the awe-inspiring epiphanies Tom Chick is supposed to be known for? Maybe I’m not familiar with enough of his repertoire, but it seems like I’ve strongly disagreed with every article of his I’ve seen.

  9. Oak says:

    The problem with turtling is that you (I?) don’t really do it for strategic reasons, but because building a huge walled city with all sorts of infrastructure is more satisfying than engaging in skirmishes. The Stronghold games, especially Stronghold Crusader, make this their focus, and are highly recommended to all my fellow cowards.

  10. Arathain says:

    I was a little puzzled by Mr. Chick’s offhand dismissal of Total Annihilation and Supreme Commander as part of the discussion. With infinite resources and powerful defenses surely those two are a Turtle’s dream game?

  11. Lunaran says:

    We need to get an RPS t-shirt onto someone in a band.

  12. Mil says:

    Re: dead turtles, I was looking recently for an RTS where basebuilding is important and has some depth. Didn’t find any. Supreme Commander at least has some variety of buildings, but in the end all seems to come down to spamming power generators/mass fabricators as quickly as possible, with the occasional shield generator or turret. Not very deep. Any suggestions?

  13. Lim-Dul says:

    Perimeter? Perimeter 2 is coming out soon (or was it released already?). It’s all about base building. ^^

  14. Senethro says:

    TA and SupCom are not in fact games but charitable endeavours by an altruistic developer. By throwing some bones to turtle players they spend 3 hours on a single “epic” game which prevents them playing other RTSs. Thus, everyone else is saved from boring games where a turtle spends all his economy on defense, taunts you incessantly for not dashing yourself on his walls and then ragequits when you show up with an army built using 75% map control.

  15. mrrobsa says:

    I guess it’s apt that I like the ‘turtle’ strategy AND I love Total Annhilation and Supreme Commander. It’s great to watch waves of approaching enemies crash to no effect against your very own fortress. It shouldn’t prove to be impassible as decent RTS’ will always have counters and bunker busters.
    Breaking through a turtle with a surgical strike is great too!
    I felt the ‘Interaction Breeds Violence’ article was good but expected it to go on to say more. Surely one of the main causes for violence and weapons in games is that it is easier to simulate the mechanics and effects of firing a gun (or swinging a sword) with program code than simulating complex characters with emotional interactions, and where the drama would come from dialogue and characters instead of physical injury and killing. And I’m glad games like The Sims or Facade are striving towards the complexity of interacting characters.

  16. Jim Rossignol says:

    Perimeter 2 is, sadly, rubbish.

  17. Cabbs says:

    Yet another supcom post. Was slightly irked by its dismissal too. must be my fanboy acting up.

    Complaining about turtling in Total Annihilation is understandable, but Supcom circa the last expansion is very anti-turtle. Control of the map is the best and most effective method of getting resources, and defences are expensive and trumpable. Couple that with the lack of ‘metal maps’ or viably rushable superweapons, and you have an inevitable death for turtles, unless they are allowed to persist, or their oponent is silly.

  18. hydra9 says:

    ‘Why does everything have to be about shooting?’

    That is a really, really good question.

  19. Rich_P says:

    “Fixed fortifications are a monument to the stupidity of man.” – George S. Patton

    Has turtling ever been effective against real players? If you turtle in an online match, you lose.

    However, I still really enjoy turtling against the AI because I find research, defense placement, and building construction more enjoyable than combat. I guess it’s because for many years, controlling RTS units was either click-intensive or incredibly clumsy (units unable to think for themselves…why should I have to tell my men when to toss a grenade or find cover?) RTS games could really benefit from better AI code, especially if the designers expect me to build a base and command an army at the same time.

    At this point, I prefer that “quick” RTS games not include base-building. Leave it to the epic RTS games like Sins or whatever. TW is brilliant for having empire management separate from combat.

    Come to think of it, TF2 has a role for turtlers: the engineer. You spend the round upgrading and building and upgrading some more. Apply the same idea to RTS games: a turtler that’s useful to the team (DoW II’s Techmarine comes to mind)

    Also: is Halo Wars really “RTS for kids” like all the grizzled PC RTS vets claim?

  20. Hmm-Hmm. says:

    I have turtling tendencies, and I am not ashamed.

    Although Dawn of War which I’m still playing fervently, helps me get out of my shell a bit more and learn other, more ‘active’ playstyles.

  21. Tei says:

    Jessep: You want winning the games?
    Kaffee: I think I’m entitled to them.
    Jessep: You want turrets?
    Kaffee: I want the Turtle!
    Jessep: You can’t handle the turtle! Son, we live in a world that has walls. And those walls have to be guarded by men with guns. Who’s gonna do it? You? You, Lt. Weinberg? I have a greater responsibility than you can possibly fathom. You weep for Santiago and you curse the Marines. You have that luxury. You have the luxury of not knowing what I know: that Santiago’s death, while tragic, probably saved lives. And my existence, while grotesque and incomprehensible to you, saves lives…You don’t want the truth. Because deep down, in places you don’t talk about at parties, you want me on that wall. You need me on that wall.
    We use words like honor, code, loyalty…we use these words as the backbone to a life spent defending something. You use ‘em as a punchline. I have neither the time nor the inclination to explain myself to a man who rises and sleeps under the blanket of the very freedom I provide, then questions the manner in which I provide it! I’d rather you just said thank you and went on your way. Otherwise, I suggest you pick up a weapon and stand a post. Either way, I don’t give a damn what you think you’re entitled to!
    Kaffee: Did you order the code red?
    Jessep: I did the job you sent me to do.
    Kaffee: Did you order the Spiderbase Strategy?
    Jessep: You’re goddamn right I did!! I have did it in Dune2, CNC, Red Alert, I did it all on all games! Turtle FTW!

  22. Mil says:

    I’ve only scanned the blog about violence but it seems like it talks about violent games, shooting games and FPSs as if they were pretty much interchangeable. In fact it says this:

    While there had been games before Doom that revolved around shooting (indeed spacewar, the game credited as being the first widely available and influential computer game, was a two player game where they fought against each other using rockets) it was not until Doom came along that an entire genre was created for such games – the First-Person Shooter.

    Which is just plain not true. The side-scrolling shooter genre existed and was perfectly healthy well before Doom existed. In fact Doom’s predecessor, Wolfenstein 3D, was just a logical evolution of side-scrolling shooters. When technology made it possible, shooters moved from 2D to 3D. Nothing strange about that.

    In fact, the big majority of games that existed before Doom were violent in some way. Virtually all of them used the concept of “lives”! How does the author think those lives were lost?

    Anyway, killing enemies is a safe game mechanic for developers. Things like hot coffee will give people fits, but nobody is going to complain about killing enemies. It doesn’t make a lot of sense to me, but hey.

  23. Larington says:

    I thought the Imperial Guard in DoW 1 was supposed to be all about the turtling ’til you got access to the tanks, never got far enough into the campaign to conclude if that was really happening – I got fed up of the story characters calling my army incompetent simply because my superiors weren’t giving me the equipment I needed to get the job done.

  24. Mo says:

    @RichP:
    Halo Wars is the most fun I’ve had in an RTS since the original Red Alert. Very intuitive, surprisingy painless to control (not perfect though) and a lot of good “explosions make me happy” fun.

    It’s got depth, but not “PC RTS” levels of it. Still, if the over-complexity of modern RTSs have turned you off, you’ll enjoy Halo Wars. Like I said, most fun I’ve had since Red Alert.

  25. Senethro says:

    Larington: You didn’t complete a 5 mission campaign?

    Also, am I the only one who detests TF2 on a design, practice and personal level to the extent that I only play Demoman/Spy?

  26. Larington says:

    Was some time ago, but yeah, got maybe about 3 missions in before the characterisation pushed me away. I found it really annoying everytime the campaign switched to Eldar, I didn’t buy the expansion pack to play Eldar dagnabbit and eventually I thought “sod it”, tinkered with the multiplayer AI for a little while and shelved the game to try something else.

  27. Heliocentric says:

    Hah i still have perimeter, the sequel being crap can’t take that off me. But for rts games?

    All aboard.
    Coh, coh, coh, coh.
    Choo choo!

  28. ChampionHyena says:

    Re: Halo Wars, mebbe I’m just jaded, but it felt EXTREMELY limited to me, and not just in complexity. Not enough units, not enough races, not enough missions, not enough multiplayer variety, not enough space in maps, not enough… well, game. There’s a ton of base-building, though. If you’re into that. I guess. I went back to Dawn of War and never looked back.

  29. ChampionHyena says:

    Also (since it came up and I feel the need to harp on it), am I the only person who REALLY didn’t like any of the C&C games?

  30. Pantsman says:

    This is blasphemy! The only true Power Of Love is this one:

  31. Matt says:

    Roguepunk. It’s stupid, annoying and bound to generate a load of giddy coverage on the world wide blogosphere.

  32. Xercies says:

    Its definitly true that Turtling never worked in RTS games online at all in multiplayer matches but I love the turtle then rush mechanic because I’m not really great enough to think of new strategies, that why Dawn of War 2 is kicking my ass.

    The violence thing, well I think he is quite true but like the Splash Damage guys said, the market is for killing things so the companies will not risk for a game not about killing things. Except for Natsume of course, and maybe EA. But I like Harvest Moon better.

  33. A-Scale says:

    Also, am I the only one who detests TF2 on a design, practice and personal level to the extent that I only play Demoman/Spy?

    Yes.

  34. Ian says:

    I haven’t read the article yet, but I’m pretty sure I’m a turtler.

  35. Tei says:

    I have turtled on a Civi game… a civi multiplayer game. So Imagine turtling … with turns, …on a game that is like 20 hours long. Also, my friends like to play with the “marathon” mode, that make Civi extraloong. And with the “furious barbarians”, that make the first years a challenge to survive if you optimize much.

  36. Dave says:

    What I detest about TF2 is suicide-bombing demomen. It mostly happens on low gravity servers… they sticky-jump into your nest of sentries, drop a few bombs and die. Repeatedly. It might take out a sentry now and then, but mostly it’s just an annoyance because that other guy doesn’t get it. It’s basically just griefing. It almost makes me wish I was playing arena instead, except that’s not so good for turtling engineers either.

    Reminds me of the old days of GemStone III, when there were red crystals that exploded a few seconds after you rubbed them. Some punk suicide-bombed a wedding that way, killing 14 other characters, then deleted his character and rolled up a new one to cause more grief.

  37. Tei says:

    “Some punk suicide-bombed a wedding that way, killing 14 other characters, ”

    I laught here.

  38. Senethro says:

    Heh, I forgot the word “engineer” in my previous post. Because hes a turtle see.

  39. DigitalSignalX says:

    With a lot of the older school RTS’s, if you wanted to see the rest of the tech tree you *had* to turtle to some extent, else almost all matches would start and end by only using the first couple branches of units. Seems like now, you’re lucky if a RTS even has 3 tiers of units, let alone 5 or 6 like TA.

  40. malkav11 says:

    I find building intricate defense structures much more engaging than actual clashes of armies most of the time….that’s why I’m so happy the Tower Defense subgenre of games has taken off the way it has. And not so happy that there are games that are starting to lean towards more clicky, action-oriented designs. Bah.

    Personally, I -did- buy Winter Assault to play the Eldar. And the Orks, and the Chaos Marines….because they got left out of the original campaign in a truly criminal design move. Imperial Guard? Pah. Regular guys in a universe of larger than life figures, why would I want to play with them? (read about them, sure. play them? Boooooring.)

  41. Tei says:

    @malkav11: Is strange, because the imperial guard has more options to turtle. Is the faction that play like a Turret Defense game…. or maybe I am wrong? and is the faction that has this long range artillery unit… Pah?!.. kill then from inside your walls!.

  42. Cradok says:

    I used to love turtling in TA. I’d turtle enough that nobody could get near me while still being able to field a decent enough force to make attacks.

    Of course, that was against friends. I quickly learned when I got into the Boneyards beta – now there was a neat idea – that turtling simply won’t work against players who are playing to win, not just have fun. It’s hard to build up a solid defensive grid when you’ve got 80 pee-wees knocking on your door two minutes in.

    Also, Larrington, general derision for the Imperial Guard is pretty standard in 40k. It takes a lot of a Marine or even an Inquisitor to treat one with anything but contempt.

  43. Gwyn says:

    The article on SFIV is a bit crap – SF3 wasn’t unpopular because it was complex, it was unpopular because it was on the Dreamcast which nobody owned, and only had 2 recognisable characters. Its major change was the parry system, which was awesomely accessible as all you had to do was tap forward when your opponent attacked. If you had a thumb, you could parry. Some claim two-button throws were too complex, but given how easy it was to do throws by accident in SFII it’s hard to see it as a bad thing. Pretty much all the super art combos were two quarter circles and a button away, which is as intuitive is it gets short of just having a ‘win button’.

    SFIV on the other hand is enormously complicated, with timing-based focus attacks, focus armour, focus cancels, armour breaking EX attacks, two inversely proportional power bars, and (most confusingly) all the old characters with completely different balancing, so now Guile’s crap and Dhalsim’s amazing (the opposite of the original SF2 order).

    It’s always been folly to suppose that fighting games became too complex to play. At the end of the day, it’s just two guys trying to knock each other out using as much or as little technique as they fancy. Despite the huge tactical and technical depth of SFIV (more than any other series entry by far) you can still beat the arcade mode using only sweep kicks if you want.

    2D fighters never got complex, they just lost their casual audience when Tekken appeared and made them look old hat. From there it became clear that only the fans were buying them, so the fans were catered to. Somewhere along the line this became non-fan journalists proclaiming that the genre was up it’s own arse. Maybe it was, but if it was then SFIV is carrying on a proud tradition.

    SFIV is an absolutely brilliant game though, of course. If it wasn’t then I wouldn’t care enough to point out when people are talking rubbish about it. Hopefully arcade sticks will be back in stock bu the time the PC version is released!

  44. malkav11 says:

    The Imperial Guard has more defensive options but Dawn of War is specifically designed to force you out to gather resource points and such, so they may be slightly more turtly than the rest but there’s no viable turtle game there, not really.

    And to trade all the shiny cool of deep striking Terminator squads and drop-podding Dreadnoughts or the Avatar of Kaela Mensha Khaine, or the Bloodthirster of Khorne, or the Squiggoth for some men with tanks? Pfft.

  45. Arathain says:

    I dunno. I kind of like the concept of a bunch of ordinary guys with standard weapons and a lot of guts (that the Commissar will spill if you run) standing up to the big guys. It’s an underdog thing. Anyway, even in a universe of demons and dead guys in robot suits, tanks are always cool.

  46. Lim-Dul says:

    Hey, I recalled another game with epic base-building and unlike Perimeter 2 it’s not rubbish – however, it’s also old. =)
    There was this one RTS called NetStorm in which you had to attack your enemy with… buildings. And buildings only (with specific firing arcs, weaknesses etc.). :-D
    The nice thing is that the game still seems to have an active community and even online play – not to mention the fact that it’s free to download now.

    http://www.netstormhq.com/

    Check it out – I play it from time to time.

  47. jalf says:

    Imperial Guard was awesome in DoW. And not just because of the tanks. Lines of little wimpy dudes with hardly any armor, trying to stand up to enemies 3 times their size was just sweet! And the commisar makes up for any cool points lost by not having dreads. :p

    I have a weak spot for any leader who’ll shoot his own men before the enemy does it. :D

    Also basilisks were just pure overkill.

  48. Catastrophe says:

    If you played TA online you would find out Turtling gets you killed promptly. It works well against the AI but with a player that spreads out, gathering all resources and piling you with a continuous attack of Kbots and Vehicles, your “impenatrable defenses” are crushed under the might.

    Turtling on TA was only really effective on a map like Metal Heck where all the floor was Metal – one of the resources.

    Then you could compete with the Rushers army – but still need an army of your own to compete, as if you have enough of an army, you can literally walk straight through their defenses, losing some units, but many making it through, weakening the turtler.

  49. Gap Gen says:

    One thing about TA is that its economy is very different from SupCom’s. In TA, you were forced to expand to capture resources, whereas in SupCom a successful late-game base can be a dense cluster under shields. This is partly compounded by bonuses for building a power plant next to a factory. Personally, I preferred TA’s sprawl as it was unlike other things in the genre at the time, which centred on clustered bases. The turtle was still catered for, but in that case you’d build small defensive clusters around each part of the base, rather than just a tiny, bristling single base.

  50. marilena says:

    I always imagined that successful turtling is cause by a design oversight of some sort, or by a weak opponent. It doesn’t make any sense for turtling to be the advisable path – both players could potentially take it and then it would lead to a boring stalemate.

    The player who moves forward and grabs the map always wins in an RTS as far as I know, and why would it be any different?

    Also, “I love to turtle” has always meant “I can’t play an RTS properly” to me. You kind of like building stuff, but don’t have the speed or tactical prowess to play at a normal level, so you just play a more simple and static game.

    Though I guess most people mix things up a bit – no need to be an extreme rush-er, turtler, boomer.